Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutewomen impress in win over Richmond

UMass puts together one of its best games of the year

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Hailey Leidel broke the program’s single-season three-point record, Leah McDerment hit several clutch shots and the Massachusetts women’s basketball team got revenge against Richmond, closing out a 58-49 win on the road Wednesday night.

UMass (13-15, 5-10 Atlantic-10) fell behind by one at the end of the third quarter, but came back with 22 points in the fourth for a big conference win with the A-10 tournament approaching.

“We haven’t beaten this team since 2006,” coach Tory Verdi said. “12 years since we’ve beaten Richmond. So this is a great win for us.”

The win is a little sweeter for the fact that the Minutewomen avenged a home loss to Richmond three weeks ago, when UMass managed only 39 points.

Adding to the excitement of the win was Leidel’s new record. Leidel hit her 79th 3-pointer of the season late in the third to break the UMass record for a season, which she tied last year in her freshman campaign.

“It’s cool,” Leidel said. “It’s kind of one of those goals I had in the back of my head, because I knew last year I had tied it and I was kind of bummed that I didn’t hit that one more three at the end of the year to break it. So it was kind of something that I’ve always had eyes on, and I’m excited about it.”

The game swung on the play of McDerment in the fourth quarter. She hit a crucial jumper to extend the UMass lead to three and added a three-pointer in the final two minutes to bury Richmond.

“Huge shots down the stretch from Leah,” Verdi said. “No question about it. I think this was probably her best game of her career.”

McDerment led the Minutewomen with 13 points on the night, followed by Leidel with 12 and and Maggie Mulligan with nine. Mulligan also contributed on the boards, pulling down 14 of the Minutewomen’s 47 rebounds.

As has often been the case for UMass, the struggles came in the third quarter, when UMass gave up an 8-0 run that allowed Richmond to retake the lead. Unlike many other games, however, the Minutewomen bounced back and dominated the fourth quarter.

“A lot of times at the end of the game we’ll let the other team dictate what’s going to happen,” Leidel said. “A lot of times rebounding will kill us, and I don’t think we let Richmond do that in any way. So we kind of just set up and executed our game plan more precisely down the stretch.”

After two months of struggling to tread water, Wednesday night saw the strong performance that the Minutewomen have been looking for.

“I’ve said this all along, when we play to our level, when we play the way we’re capable of playing, we can beat just about anybody in the A-10,” Verdi said. “And we’ve showed that all year long. We’ve come up short, no question about it. You look at the games against Saint Louis, Duquesne, we came up short, but we were right there, and that’s all we need.”

The win is the second in a row for UMass, the first time the Minutewomen have won consecutive games since Dec. 13 against UMass Lowell, before the start of conference play. Now ranked 10th in the A-10, UMass has just one game left in the season, against 3-25 Rhode Island.

“There’s no better time to peak than right now going into the tournament,” Verdi said. “I think our players right now are a little bit more confident, and when you win multiple games in a row, that’s exactly what it does for you. Hopefully we just keep it rolling.”

 

Thomas Haines can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @thainessports.

 

 

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